DEFINING INTERNET ADDICTION
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Internet Addiction Defined

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http://www.netaddiction.com/


Created by Andy Oliver

To be diagnosed as having Internet Addiction Disorder, a person must meet certain criteria as prescribed by the American Psychiatric Association. Three or more of these criteria must be present at any time during a twelve month period:

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1. Tolerance: This refers to the need for increasing amounts of time on the Internet to achieve satisfaction and/or significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on the Internet.

2. Two or more withdrawal symptoms developing within days to one month after reduction of Internet use or cessation of Internet use (i.e., quitting cold turkey), and these must cause distress or impair social, personal or occupational functioning. These include: psychomotor agitation, i.e. trembling, tremors; anxiety; obsessive thinking about what is happening on the Internet; fantasies or dreams about the Internet; voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers.

3. Use of the Internet is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

4. The Internet is often accessed more often, or for longer periods of time than was intended.


5. A significant amount of time is spent in activities related to Internet use ( e.g., Internet books, trying out new World Wide Web browsers, researching Internet vendors, etc.).

6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of Internet use.

7. The individual risks the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of excessive use of the Internet.

In recent research, other characteristics have been identified. The first is feelings of restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use. The second is that the Internet is used as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.

The third characteristic is that the user lies to family members or friends to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet. And, finally, the user returns repeatedly despite excessive fees (Egger & Rauterberg, 1996).


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"ADDICTION" AND INTERNET ADDICTION DISORDER

Bratter and Forest (1985; in Freeman, 1992)define addiction as "a behavior pattern of compulsive drug use characterized by overwhelming involvement...with the use of a drug and the securing of the supply, as well as the tendency to relapse after completion of withdrawal." Like all other addictions, Internet addiction is a psychophysiological disorder involving tolerance (the same amount of usage elicits less response; increased amounts become necessary to evoke the same amount of pleasure), withdrawal symptoms especially, tremors, anxiety, and moodiness), affective disturbances (depression, irritability), and interruption of social relationships (a decline or loss, either in quality or quantity).


Due to the nature of Internet Addiction Disorder (failed impulse control without involving an intoxicant), of all other addictions, IAD is said to be closest to pathological gambling. However, the effects that the addiction can have on every aspect of the person's life are just as devastating as those of alcoholism. Kimberly S. Young, Psy.D., conducted a study involving nearly 500 heavy Internet users. Their behavior was compared to the clinical criteria used to classify pathological gambling as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Using this criteria, eighty percent of the participants in the Young's study were classified as dependent Internet users. They "exhibited significant addictive behavior patterns." She concludes that, "the use of the internet can definitely disrupt one's academic, social, financial, and occupational life the same way other well-documented addictions like pathological gambling, eating disorders, and alcoholism can" (Young, 1996).

There have been many attempts by medical doctors and sychologists to explain addiction disorders. These theories include psychodynamic and personality explanations, sociocultural explanations, behavioral explanations, and biomedical explanations. Not all explain any addiction perfectly, and some are better than others at explaining Internet addiction.

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Bratter and Forest (1985; in Freeman, 1992) define addiction as "a behavior pattern of compulsive drug use characterized by overwhelming involvement...with the use of a drug and the securing of the supply, as well as the tendency to relapse after completion of withdrawal." Like all other addictions, Internet addiction is a psychophysiological disorder involving tolerance (the same amount of usage elicits less response; increased amounts become necessary to evoke the same amount of pleasure), withdrawal symptoms especially, tremors, anxiety, and moodiness), affective disturbances (depression, irritability), and interruption of social relationships (a decline or loss, either in quality or quantity).

Due to the nature of Internet Addiction Disorder (failed impulse control without involving an intoxicant), of all other addictions, IAD is said to be closest to pathological gambling. However, the effects that the addiction can have on every aspect of the person's life are just as devastating as those of alcoholism. Kimberly S. Young, Psy.D., conducted a study involving nearly 500 heavy Internet users. Their behavior was compared to the clinical criteria used to classify pathological gambling as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association. mouse Using this criteria, eighty percent of the participants in the Young's study were classified as dependent Internet users. They "exhibited significant addictive behavior patterns." She concludes that, "the use of the internet can definitely disrupt one's academic, social, financial, and occupational life the same way other well-documented addictions like pathological gambling, eating disorders, and alcoholism can" (Young, 1996).

There have been many attempts by medical doctors and sychologists to explain addiction disorders. These theories include psychodynamic and personality explanations, sociocultural explanations, behavioral explanations, and biomedical explanations. Not all explain any addiction perfectly, and some are better than others at explaining Internet addiction.


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